Boys in Blue: An Evening of Man City FC Films with Gary James

Boys in Blue: An Evening of Manchester City FC Films with Gary James

On June 9th, for the last time ever Gary James author and Manchester football historian, curates an evening of films about the history of Manchester City FC. Find out more and how to book tickets.

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The show features behind the scenes footage from City’s history including glimpses of Maine Road

Boys in Blue: An Evening of Manchester City FC Films with Gary James

As part of the 2016 Manchester History Festival, Football historian and huge Manchester City fan Gary James is curating an evening of films all about the history of Manchester City FC. If you went to his City Badge presentations or have read any of Gary’s Manchester City books you’ll know it’ll be a great night all about this famous club.

This is the last chance to see these films in this format so be quick and make sure you don’t miss it.

I caught up with Gary to find out more about the show;

Show details

When is the film being shown? Thursday 9th June, Doors open 7pm for a 7:30pm start
How long does the event last? A definite 90 minutes of film, plus some narration from Gary James. There’ll also be a brief ten minute interval. Expected to be finished by 10.45.
Where is the show? The Dancehouse, 10 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 5QA
Where can I get tickets? Tickets are available via the Dancehouse website here

Boys in Blue with Gary James

Gary, thedancehouse.co.uk site describes the evening “Dr Gary James, author and Manchester football historian, curates an evening of films about the history of Manchester City FC “. Can you tell us more what to expect?

Together with Will McTaggart, who looks after the collection at the North West Film Archive, we’ve trawled through the collection of the archive to find items that are City related. The archive is a fantastic resource and they’ve been collecting and preserving footage for decades. I first contacted them back in the 1990s when I heard a rumour they had some footage of the great City captain Billy Meredith. Since then we’ve helped each other with ideas and information.

For the film show Will and I have identified material that we believe fans will enjoy. It shows City from the early years of the Twentieth Century to 2003. Our aim was to use clips of fans, interviews, the ground and so on for the period 1923 to 2003, I.e. The life of the club during their existence at Maine Road, but we’ve now expanded that because we’ve got the only known surviving film of City’s first ground Hyde Road as well.

Gary, you do lots of research on City and Football in general, where does the footage come from? Did you find it all?

When we decided to do the first show a few years back, we put out an appeal. Fans came forward with material they’d filmed in the 1960s onwards. Old cine films had to be preserved and converted as well as video technology. Some of these scenes are the best in my opinion. One film was made by a fan who stood on the Kippax for its final game in 1994. It gives a true representation of what it was like to stand on the Kippax.

The Kippax Stand Gary James' favourite stand

Other films were made by amateur film makers, for example colour film of Maine Rd in the 1930s, and we’ve also got material from one of the former players. Goalkeeper Harry Dowd took his camera to Vienna in 1970 and filmed the players coming home with the ECWC. It’s never been seen in public.

There are also some news reports and interviews from the BBC which were to be destroyed. The NWFA found some space and offered to preserve it for ever. This includes an interview with Joe Mercer on the day he resigned which explains who was to blame. Very interesting!

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This is the third (and last) time you’ve shown the “Boys in Blue” is there anything new? And why is it the last time?

The new stuff is basically The film of Hyde Road, Maine Road‘s opening game in 1923, the 1969 homecoming with interviews with fans by the BBC’s John Humphrys, and the Dowd collection. All great stuff.

Why the last time? Well, we’ve actually put this on on three separate occasions now and I’m not certain whether the appetite would be there after our fourth show. I’d love to do more of course, but it’s costly to put on (in terms of time and effort) and it’s often difficult finding a cinema that does the films justice.

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Behind the scenes footage of the day to day tasks at Maine Road

It’s important the films are narrated to some extent because you often need the context, so either me or Will would always need to be present. The aims of the Film Archive are to find and preserve film for future generations and I see each showing as an opportunity to develop the archive.

What’s your favourite piece of footage from the show?

I obviously love the old material because it helps to show how City – and City fans – watched games over 100 years ago. But from a personal point of view the 1994 film on the Kippax hits me every time. I stood on the Kippax between 1983 and 1994 and loved the place but nowadays it’s difficult getting across exactly what it was like to fans who never experienced it. This film helps because it shows as clearly as possible what the Kippax was – chanting, segregation fences, sound bouncing back off the roof, the stanchions, the Blueprint flag… I could go on, but fans really need to see this.

Have any of the players or managers on the films seen the show? What was their feedback?

No player has been as far as I’m aware. I do know that Joe Mercer’s granddaughter saw it and Kath, Roy Clarke’s widow, did as well. They loved it because they saw material they’d never seen before. The 1956 final newsreel is shown, as it would’ve been in 1956, and we relive the drama as fans would’ve done back then. It brought back great memories for Kath.

Show details

When is the film being shown? Thursday 9th June Doors Open 7pm for a 7:30pm start
How long does the event last? A definite 90 minutes of film, plus some narration from Gary James. There’ll also be a brief ten minute interval. Expected to be finished by 10.45.
Where is the show? The Dancehouse, 10 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 5QA
Where can I get tickets? Tickets are available via the Dancehouse website here

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